Puppet Masters

A fiction writer starts out as god in their created universe. It’s an ego thing really, and all about the illusion of control.  We create fictional characters to fit into our fictional worlds and begin to manipulate them like puppets on a stage.

Wasn’t it Shakespeare that referenced all the world’s a stage and we but players on it ?  I believe it was: All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven ages.

The expression of the world being a stage goes back to Roman times, but Shakespeare gets credit for it.  This is what we start off doing as writers.  We set our stage and move our characters about, creating a powerful euphoria of being god of our universe.  Then, if we’ve done a good job as a writer our characters begin to rebel against their strings.  They don’t like the scenario you’ve come up with and protest your ministrations.

For nonwriters, this type of discussion can be disturbing and makes them think us writers are all nuts!  We’re not by the way, or at least not entirely.

Some writers claim it’s writer’s block, but I have a different philosophy.  When my characters have become more person than caricature, they start showing their personality.  For instance  Kyle, the leading man in Faere Guardian, is very particular about his clothes.  He doesn’t think he is, but when I put him in an Armani suit, he fidgeted and messed with his tie.  His stance was uncomfortable and a scowl quickly developed making deep furrows in his brow.  Of course what else would you expect from a brooding Scot?

However, when I put him in more relaxed attire such as khakis and a polo, he was quite comfortable and the scowl lines disappeared.  Of course that’s also part of being a writer, cueing off the subtleties of your creations.  I could easily ignore his discomfort and force a certain look, but then that would be counterproductive to the point.

Sometimes I wonder if it’ not a matter of developing your characters, but learning the characters that come to you.  Just like our real life friends, we have to learn their personalities, and determine how they react to the scenarios they are put in.  If we are the puppet masters of our creations, doesn’t that imply that they are flat characters that we can manipulate to our whims, and not take regard of the characters goals and desires?

In essence, we are not to be puppet masters, but rather stewards of our created worlds.  We work our magic like a  conductor directs a symphonic orchestra, building to a crescendo in one area while subsiding in another. Just as the orchestra needs to practice before a concert, a good writer often has to rewrite or revise a first draft.  Those subtle undertones that are going on behind the main melody will soon overtake the melody and make a tumultuous statement, building to that pinnacle moment.

That’s the goal of a writer, to be a masterful storyteller, not just a puppet master.  There are plenty of examples of bad writing out there.  I don’t want mine to be one of them.  Of course based on my rantings here, I’m sure there are those who are already decided that I don’t have the talent.  That’s ok, you can write your own blog in your style.  In the meantime, I”m passionaltely pursuing my dreams in the way I know how, and learning more along the way!


7 comments on “Puppet Masters

  1. I think that thrill of discovery (whether it be characters, their world, or their story) is one of my favorite parts about writing. Every time I sit down to compose – its a new adventure.

    Plus, I totally dig the idea of being a puppet master. Muahaha! Dance for me, characters, dance!


  2. My favorite of your posts so far :-). How well you describe what happens between writer and character. And yes, it helps to explain away the odd expressions I get when I refer to my characters as if they were living, breathing, humans.

    Wonderful post.


    • Thank you! I think the strangest look I ever got was when I was talking with my sister over breakfast at a St. Louis Bread. Co. I was discussing with her how to put my character in ICU, with a life threatening critical condition, yet not kill him. This lady stared at me like I was Jack the Ripper. As my sister gave me detailed medical information – it helps to have sisters that are nurses – the woman’s face turns white and goes to counter, pointing at me. The manager thanked her for her concern, and the woman quickly left. The manager, a friend of mine stops by our table bearing mints and tells me” YOu really shouldn’t plot your characters destruction publicly.” I wasn’t going to kill him, just hurt him really bad and he is a fictional character!


  3. Definitely imagine that that you said. Your favourite reason appeared to be on the internet the simplest factor to be mindful of. I say to you, I definitely get irked even as other people think about issues that they plainly don’t know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top and outlined out the whole thing without having side-effects , folks could take a signal. Will likely be back to get more. Thanks


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